23 January 2016

An Open Letter To Spaniard's Bay

Dear Spaniard's Bay,

When I first read this article,


I was touched emotionally. It wasn't your pain I was feeling. It was my own pain. It was the emotions that were triggered by folks "circling a wagon" when they had no idea what was in the wagon. It was the emotion that comes when you hear people talk about a woman who "chuckled" when a different response may have been more appropriate.

The event has been triggering me all week. I had to write this note.

I've been in Brenda's shoes. It's a lonely place to be. I was a young woman who joined the army from rural NL, not far from where you are right now. I was full of idealistic expectation and appreciated the initiative that caused the army to come looking for me to diversify the force.

I had no idea about topics such as "threshold diversity" or "enabling behaviour" at that time. I just wanted to do this work and I wanted to have fun. I thought the fact that they "let me in the door" meant that I would be treated with respect.

Well it wasn't all fun. Not everyone was as excited to see me there as those recruiters were that day when they dangled the "non traditional woman" carrot. For the next 11 years, I faced many instances of discrimination and so have a lot of my sisters. I've also laughed when I could have cried and failed to speak out on occasion.

Fast forward 25 years and I enter a new arena where people like me aren't often found. Law School, the hallowed halls, where folks from my socio economic status seldom get an invitation let alone a legally blind single mom living on a disability pension.

I was once again excited to gain entrance in spite of, or because of being who I was. Again I found myself in a place that wasn't quite ready for me. There's this assumption at times that we're allowed into these places if we act a certain way. I was charged with Intellectual Dishonesty at Law School and that process was one that has had a lasting impact on me and those who know me.

We're always at risk when we are under represented in a dominant culture. We cannot educate ourselves in this stuff. I wouldn't even know about this had I not studied Women's Studies and Human Rights.

No one tells us how our own behaviours can be "enabling" at times. When answer the call, we are not always aware of what we do not know.  What I do know is this - the chances of us "under-represented minorities" harming the "dominant culture" as much as we stand to be harmed is slim to none. We're at risk when we are "the only one". Don't forget that in this case.

This stuff is called "systemic discrimination". You would be wise to keep your head and not act in haste. You would be wise when you see this set up - a lone woman facing a large body of men - to stand back and ask what else is at play here?

You have an opportunity here to take the high ground. You have a chance to open this up to the lens of diversity and inclusion. Call in people who know about this stuff and find a way to resolve the issue in a transparent manner.  You can't go back and undo what has been done but you can do better going forward. I like to say, when we know better we do better.

There's nothing as insidious as "unconscious bias" with the emphasis on the word "unconscious". There is so much we don't know about our behaviour. Now is a great time to learn - you don't need to reinvent the wheel.

If you want to redeem yourselves as a community, take the time to do this right for everyone's sake. Do it right for the little children who stood in support of the men at the rally and for the girls who may want to step into the non-traditional world. Do it right for the men who want a better world. Set the standard for zero tolerance for abuse and discrimination.

19 January 2016

3 Tips to Achieve your 2016 Goals

I love new beginnings. There's something about putting away the old and planning for what lies ahead that really gets me fired up.

Speaking of planning for success in 2016, have you made a plan yet? We have been spending a lot of time mapping out our year ahead. In my business, planning is key to keeping me on track.

Aside from the basics of looking at the products and services, getting intimate with the money matters, and taking a hard look at the marketing mix, we also look at the little things.

Here are my three tips for getting your plan done:
  1. Take time to reflect upon last year. Use what you learned last year to guide you in what you'll plan for in 2016. What can you learn from this journey? What did you do well? What do you need to stop doing? What is draining on your revenue but not producing the results you need? Where did you waste time and valuable resources?
  2. If it's not written, it's not real. I'm a firm believer in writing it down and I like to do it in a small group if possible. I actually sit with folks outside my industry. They help me to get a new perspective. But whatever approach you take, ensure that you get your plan on paper.
  3. Know yourself well. All too often we see people selling programs that will "take you to 6 figures" with a one size fits all template. I'm all about the big dream but I also believe an ounce of common sense goes a long way. It takes a lot of internal discipline - and ability to execute - to make big dreams come true. Make a plan that sits well with you. One that means you have the final say on what your plan entails.
Make 2016 the best year ever.

10 January 2016

In the company of dreamers?????

How big do you dream? Do you limit your dreams because folks around you would think you were nuts if you were to tell them what you have in mind for the future? 

I'm blessed in that most of the folks I know now fall into that category of dreamer - the ones that are going for the gold so to speak. When we sit together, someone usually says "Imagine if so and so were a fly on the wall?" This of course in reference to the folks who tried to limit our dreams at some point. 

I love people who have the courage to dream big dreams. They usually take steps to get to those dreams and even when they have set backs, they end up in pretty impressive places. The first thing they usually get rid of is the tendency to care what other people think. Not the people who matter, but those people in your corner whose opinion will hold you back. 

I'm intrigued by their courage, inspired by their generosity and encouraged by their support. If you have a dream that would scare most people - watch out for the company you keep.  

2 January 2016

3 Reasons to Let a Professional Prepare Your Income Tax Return

1. Grey Areas

You've been doing taxes forever and you're pretty good at it. Actually, you're darn good. You not only do your own but you also do 17 other people's return. But this year things have changed. Up until now, you've only had T4 income, a few investments, baby sitting and medical expenses. Now you have a kid at college, the spouse is retired and your mother is in a nursing home. Are you familiar with the grey areas around who can claim what? Did you know that you can claim those medical expenses for your child's braces and get back a bigger chunk if they are a full time student? What are the deductions that you are entitled to when you have an ageing parent who needs your help? Income splitting is a great option - can you split your CPP also?

2. Change of Marital Status in the Year

You separated from your spouse this past year and you have more than one child. Where does the child live? Was your spouse a low income spouse? Can you still claim her now that you are separated? Can you claim one of the children as your eligible dependent if she claims one also? There are options in the year of marital change. Do you know what they are?

3. You've Started a Home Based Business

You have turned your love of a product into a little sideline. When do you need to declare that money you earn as "business income"? Is it from day one? How much of your home expenses can you write off? Can you write off any? What about meals that you purchase while prospecting? Does the 50% limit apply on the meals you purchase when you attend a conference out of province? What are some ways that you can reduce your tax payable by including your family in the business?

Let a professional help you if any of the situations above apply to you. You will be glad you did.